Well it’s been almost three weeks since I cooked anything. I missed my kitchen, but I’m definitely not complaining about travelling around California eating great food cooked by other people!
I didn’t take enough pics of our meals, but here are just a few of the culinary highlights of the trip. We were given lots of great tips from people who’ve been to California before and we also stumbled upon some excellent places all by ourselves.
The Mission at Mission Beach in San Diego, as recommended by local folk Kathryn and Ed, seems like a very long time ago now. It was well worth the 30 minute wait for a table for brunch and got our foodie journey off to a wonderful start. I had Papas Loco, one of their Latino breakfasts with rosemary potatoes, grilled jalapeños, black beans, cheese, avocado slice and sour cream. I also, entirely unnecessarily, had scrambled eggs. Mr B had the same with steak and Missy B chose the biggest chocolate brownie we’ve ever seen! At this point we weren’t used to the generous US portions…
I finally got around to taking photos of food when we got to Monterey – we randomly selected the Whaling Station Steakhouse one evening. It looked promising and turned out to be outstanding. Missy B had this gorgeously presented tomato and mozzarella salad, I had delicious crab cakes and Mr B had a beautifully cooked steak with fries. All served by a charming Thai waiter.
By this time, we had more or less worked out how to order a sensible amount of food, although I will be avoiding the scales for a little while.
The next day, still in Monterey, we found Il Vecchio by accident. We’d asked a lady who worked in the gift shop in the excellent Aquarium there where we could find a good clam chowder. She said there was somewhere beginning with V a couple of blocks away. So understandably when we saw a restaurant called Il Vecchio we assumed that was the place. It wasn’t. They don’t do chowder at all. But they have a set “workers’ lunch”, which happened to be magnificent spaghetti and meatballs on a Wednesday (or whatever day we were there).
What’s not to like about that? So we went in – and had a truly fantastic meal. It felt as though we had popped to Italy for a day.
Monterey is clearly a good place for food – at Passionfish in Pacific Grove we had another great (sadly unphotographed) meal. We shared a crab and avocado salad with spicy ginger vinaigrette – I’ll be trying to make a version of this at home. Then we shared shrimps with a corn cake, pepper and sesame crusted Albacore tuna and spoonable 12 hour lamb breast. They were all delicious – hard to say which was the tastiest. We actually had desserts here (not that we had room for them). A beautifully melty chocolate pudding and a perfect creme brûlée.
Final stop on the road trip was San Fransisco. We had a fabulous meal at Burger Bar at Macys, with old chums of Mr B, who happen to be friends with Hubert Keller, the chef there. Not only did we have a great dinner (more excellent burgers) with great company, we were also treated to some lovely extras, including these beautiful sundaes.
We’d also got some great recommendations from actor, celebrity chef and healthy food ambassador Reed Alexander – after quite by chance spending a wonderful day with him and his dad hiking in Yosemite.
There weren’t enough days to try all the suggestions but Reed did point us in the direction of the place where we had the best breakfast of the whole trip – Sweet Maple. Reed had told us that what made this place special was the millionaire’s bacon, so we had that with eggs and potatoes – truly, it was awesome.
According to the cafe’s poster, the bacon is cooked in the oven for four hours with syrup and spices – utterly delicious. I HAVE to work out how to recreate this!! Actually I don’t – it turns out that the lovely people at Sweet Maple have been generous enough to share the recipe.
Anyone for brunch this weekend??